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Jen Hetzel Silbert may be democracy’s biggest cheerleader. She advised Guyana on how to run a peaceful election. She co-led a national summit in Liberia to find a collaborative path to protect the nation’s forests. And in South Kingstown, she opened up her company’s books and invited junior associates to become part of the strategic planning process.
Seven years ago, Silbert co-founded Innovation Partners International. She became the consulting firm’s first managing partner and president, passing on the torch in 2008. But since then Silbert, 37, has showed no signs of slowing down. Silbert’s specialty lies in facilitating discussion among groups of people between six and 600.
“Just as a conductor empowers a symphony of musicians to be powerful without making a sound, so do I catalyze a group’s creativity, collaboration and inspired action without ‘telling’ or directing them on what to do,” she said in her 40 Under Forty application. “Instead I ask great, positively biased questions that harness the collaborative potential of every group.”
Silbert says through all her work she follows the motto that “people commit to what they help create.” So it follows that when her company re-examined its strategy, the owners invited in the employees as full participants.
The staff enjoyed the process so much, they asked to become owners of the firm. In January, the number of investors jumped to 16 from nine.
Not content with helping just her own employees and clients, Silbert also sits on the Social Venture Partners Rhode Island executive board and the Board of the South County YMCA, and volunteers at a South Kingstown elementary school. •